‘Chicago Fire’: One of Cruz’s Storylines Came After Joe Minoso Shared Personal Story with Dick Wolf

by Amy Myers

As the mastermind behind Chicago Fire and just about every popular crime and emergency drama on TV, Dick Wolf puts a lot of thought behind his characters’ backstories. So, when he heard star Joe Minoso’s inspiring story behind his weight loss, he had to include it into the show.

Before Minoso became Joe Cruz, he struggled with his weight as well as depression while living in Miami. Back in 2009, he reached 299 pounds and knew something had to change. Unemployed and down on his luck, the future Chicago Fire star was looking to try something new. Thanks to some frequent and well-placed advertisements, he decided to attend a Zumba class. Three songs into the class, Minoso became a Zumba advocate, adopted a more active lifestyle and lost 70 pounds. Thanks to the energizing workouts and some passionate instructors, Minoso is happier and healthier than ever.

After dancing at a Zumba event, the Chicago Fire star shared his story inspired the plot line for his character.

Check out Minoso’s full story in the clip below.

Minoso went on to explain to his fellow Zumba enthusiasts how the conversation with Wolf transpired. As it turned out, what was originally a joke ended up being a great tip for the writers. In season three of Chicago Fire, Sylvie Brett found out that Minoso was a Zumba instructor in Chicago. After striking a deal with Cruz, she became one of his students. Despite their efforts to keep it a secret, the whole station ended up finding out and, after poking fun at the fellow firefighter, supported his side gig.

‘Chicago Fire’ Star Almost Became a Full-Time Zumba Instructor

If Minoso never took the job with Chicago Fire, he may very well have become the most successful and popular Zumba instructor in Miami – and that’s saying a lot. After seeing how much the program had benefited him, Minoso wanted to inspire others. He even received his official certification to become an instructor. However, just two months later, he got a call back from the show and became an inspiration in a different capacity.

This doesn’t mean that Minoso has forgotten how much Zumba instructors have helped him with his journey to health. During his speech at the event, the Chicago Fire star commended fellow Zumba leaders and their efforts to change people’s lives. Without the confidence that the program gave him, it’s possible that the actor never would have auditioned for the series in the first place.

“Believe it or not, as Zumba instructors, you have the absolute power to change one life forever,” Minoso shared. “And as somebody who has experienced that change, I humbly bow to you all. I thank you. I applaud you.”